Hiking & Backpacking

Hiking Shoes & Boots | Tents & Bivys | Sleeping Bags & Pads | Backpacks | Trail Food | Water Filtration

Hiking Shoes & Boots

“Breaking-in” is a myth – if they’re not comfortable now, they’ll never be

Wear ½-1 size larger – to prevent your toes from hitting the toe box of the shoe/boot as you descend

Wool blend socks – will enhance foot comfort and wick moisture away to prevent blisters


Tents & Bivys

Both tents and bivys are used with accessories — sleeping bags, pad, ground cloth/tent “footprint” (to extend the life of both).

“Bivouac Sack” – Bivouac is a military term for an overnight outside.

Bivy sacks are lightweight and require no set up (you can put your pad inside the bivy to keep from getting damp and keep rolling off or sliding down your pad).

A tent of 4 lbs. and under is considered light; a bivy weighs under a pound and some top out just over 2 lbs.

Tents come in multi-season designs; bivys are not as good in a rainy environment and will require a cover.

Bivy’s are not for the claustrophobic; tents do have the psychological advantage of a “wall” that separates inside from outside, you and the wilderness.

A big difference in a bivy vs. tent is once you exit from you sleeping bag/bivy combo, you are exposed to the raw elements.

Tents vs. Bivys

Sheds rain

Sheds rain (depends on model)

Stores gear

Stores gear (limited )

Requires set up

No set up

Covers face

Covers face  (depends on model)

More spacious than bivy (depends on model)

Claustrophobic  (or cozy - depends on you)

Heavy  (weight of 2 person tent can be shared)


Requires poles, stakes, rainfly

No poles (depends on model)

Mosquito netting

Mosquito netting (depends on model)

Cuddling with a tent mate

No cuddling (depends on model)

Sleeping Bags & Pads



Ground Cloth

Protects your bag from pokes and tears…

Sleeping Pad

Protects you from pokes and tears!

Down Bags

Light and compresses well for backpacking. Store uncompressed for loft, keep clean, and air after you’ve slept  to keep bag dry! Will not retain warmth when wet.

Synthetic Bags

Can also become compressed and require “lofting” for max warmth. It is important to note that synthetics will keep you warm when wet!

Sizing of Bag

Select a comfortable bag with some room to move

(half length; full length; self-inflating; open cell foam; closed cell foam; roll -up; fold-up;  pump-up)

Your pad is your bed for the night  ## try different styles before you hit the trails and select what makes you comfortable! Weight and inslation properties can be a consideration.



Backpacks for Hiking

If there ever was an item of personal preference in hiking, your backpack has to be it.

Things to consider:  comfort vs. weight; weight vs. durability; capacity vs. cost;  top loading vs. access panels;  ultra light vs. internal frame; attachment points vs. none; and on and on…

Research and practice with the pack and carry the weight you will take on the trail.

Your backpack must be a good fit.

Your backpack must be comfortable.

Your backpack must allow you access to your gear when you want it and need it.

You need to adjust your pack each time you pick it up to ensure a body-hugging fit so that your hips bear the bulk of the weight and not your shoulders.

Men need less padding than women through the shoulders.   A sternum strap will help stabilize your load.


Lake at Mount Whitney Trail Camp

Tip: Weigh and carry water bottles in your pack for weight. If the pack becomes too heavy empty the water out on the trail to lighten your load.

Tip: If you make camp at Trail Camp to overnight before you summit; you may want to leave your main pack below while you ascend with a lightweight day pack you’ve brought along just for this purpose.


Trail Food

 The Pizza Factory
301 S. Main
Lone Pine, CA 93545

Cold Cheese Pizza
(If that’s what you like).

Food you don’t like and won’t eat is dead weight in your pack and carrying it only drains your energy.

The same is true of trash; repack food in lightweight plastic bags before you start.

Your tastes can change at higher altitudes and as you exert yourself strenuously; what you may normally enjoy can become unappetizing on the trail and no fun to choke down.

Try out foods prior to your trip under the conditions you will experience to find out what works for you; avoid messy foods (like melted chocolate bars), dry or thirst-provoking food, anything that could provoke an upset stomach or worse.

Check out your local backpacking store and talk to people about what worked for them.

Look for items light in weight, non-perishable, requiring minimal preparation, that lift your spirits.

Don’t diet on the trail; indulge yourself now.

Does everyone need a stove? You will want to boil water. Boiling water is the most commonly cooked item on the trail

When you’re in a group; plan meals together. Share the stove and plan ahead.

Keep it simple. Dry soup is lightweight, warming, easy, nourishing,  filling, and keeps you hydrated.

Pack it in a bear canister.

Tip: Dried salami, cheese and a baguette can make fast and easy meals
Tip: For an early morning start avoid cooking. Try bagels and cream cheese instead (heavy but delicious).


Water Filtration

Tip: You should only drink the water at Trail Camp after thorough purification due to Protozoa, bacteria and viruses.






Boiling can be a back-up but uses a lot of fuel; doesn’t remove sediment.

Filtration requires a mechanical pump; brute strength;  possibly spare parts; regular cleaning; careful handling; 0.2 micron pores; and a chance  viruses could slip by.

But you can drink it now.

Purification is filtration with virus-killing extras.

Purification may not be necessary in the U.S. and Canada (less risk of human fecal contamination).

Your purifier may  need time to “recharge”  .

You could also not pump water from the lake at Trail Camp, just to be safe.

Irradiation with UV is quick, effective and will  likely require extra batteries.

Murky water means less effectiveness.

Chlorination or use of iodine tablets takes a bit of time and can leave a bad taste.

With a deactivator; the taste is not an issue.

A bandanna can be a filter for sediment and weight is kept
to a minimum with drops or tabs.


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